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Babysitting, Bribes, and Organized Chaos

February 6, 2017

So my wife and I babysat my sister’s twin 4 year old boys for their first overnight sleepover a few weeks ago. Apparently my wife had invited “the boys” to come over and visit Auntie and Uncle sometime.The twins asked their mother when they could visit and we arranged a time for that Friday.

All week the boys were constantly asking if it was Friday yet so they could go over to Auntie and Uncle’s house.  They were so enthusiastic about visiting us that they even started packing their own suitcases. The plan as I understood it was to pick the boys up after work on Friday from my sister’s house and then bring them to over to our house, entertain them for a few hours, and then drop them back off at their house wired up on sugar and caffeine for their parents to deal with.

But plans change. I should have realized that when I saw a suitcase with a toothbrush inside it that things were about to go off-script. I had assumed that the suitcases were just full of toys and games. Unlikely though it seems, the twins must have also had the foresight to pack pajamas, socks, shoes, extra underwear, pull ups, outfit changes, toothbrushes, and their tablets complete with portable chargers.

Huh… My first reaction was that I must have somehow grossly misjudged the sheer volume of items it takes to babysit for a few hours. But then came the more obvious solution,”I guess that means we’re keeping them overnight.” I thought to myself.

This revelation was quickly confirmed by my brother-in-law.

“So… your sister didn’t know how long you were thinking of keeping the boys but the  twins wanted to spend the night.”

Here my lovely wife responded, “Sure, that was the plan.” The rest of the brief conversation centered on what kind of pizza the twins would eat and a quick rundown on what shows they like on TV and how to turn on their tablets.

After transferring the car seats from their car to ours and making doubly sure that the seats were installed correctly, we buckled the boys in. My wife and I loaded the rest of the toys into the trunk of the car and then waved goodbye to my brother-in-law as we backed out of the driveway.

“So we’re babysitting them overnight I guess.” I said.

“Yeah, I told you that already.” replied my wife.

“I must have forgot. When did you tell me this again?”

“Like 10 times this week.”

“Oh, well cool. Should be fun. I was just planning on relaxing at home this weekend anyways.”

I legitimately had absolutely nothing to do the entire weekend and figured that there were worse ways to spend a Friday and Saturday than being home with my wife babysitting my adorable nephews. But I also vowed that day that I really should start paying more attention to my wife when she’s talking to me.

Upon arrival the boys immediately had us bring in their suitcases so that they could start playing with their toys. While my wife kept an eye on them, I called and ordered some pizza for dinner along with brownies for dessert.

As soon as I told them that pizza was on its way, they anxiously crowded at the front door . Then after repeatedly assuring them that I would actually answer the door when the delivery guy came, the boys ran back into the family room to watch Scooby-Doo. Luckily we have Netflix so it wasn’t too hard to find the boys’ favorite show and queued up the first episode. Soon the boys were transfixed on the television  screen.

“So babysitting really isn’t all that hard.” I declared to my wife.

Then the pizza delivery man rang the doorbell.”Okay, boys we have to wash our hands before we can eat.” I said as I carried the pizza boxes into the kitchen. Soon the twins were washing their hands with the help of my wife.

This is when I began to realize that babysitting is about compromise. Our goal was to have the twins sit at the table and eat their pizza and then we’d give them brownies later on for dessert. One of my nephews seemed to grasp this intuitively. One of them however didn’t realize that it was our implicit understanding that he would eat dinner while also wearing a shirt.

I was about to say something to him but the more I thought about it, he’d probably get any shirt he was wearing dirty anyways so maybe it wasn’t really an issue at all. Sometimes it is much easier to just wet-wipe down a sauce covered child than to try and launder multiple outfits a day. I mean, he was sitting at the table AND he was actually eating his pizza. 2 out of 3 ain’t all that bad.

It was around this time that the boys started arguing with each other intermittently. We used the reward of eating brownies for dessert to break their scuffles up. I am pretty sure that anyone that has ever babysat children knows that sometimes a good bribe is the easiest form of discipline.

The rest of the night was mostly uneventful. My wife dutifully played with the boys as they built towers with blocks or read to them until they would get bored and want to play something else. I mostly reclined on the couch, watched Scooby-Doo and made sure that they didn’t get too crazy fighting or break anything or hurt themselves. Overall, my experience was enjoyable and fun and it made my glad that I’m their uncle.

I also have no problem saying that because my wife saw how tired I was and graciously let me go to bed around 10 o’clock that night while she stayed up with the twins until they went to sleep. That turned out to be 1 AM and 3 AM respectively. It must be some universal biological truth that no matter how identical twins can be, they will never, I mean ever, go to sleep or wake up at the same exact time.

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